Kerry Philipovitch Announces Retirement; American Airlines Realigns Operations and Commercial Leadership Teams

Thursday, October 10, 2019, 10:30 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines announced today that Kerry Philipovitch, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, will retire from the airline at the end of 2019. Philipovitch’s retirement is part of a long-planned personal desire to move into a new phase of her life and the airline has been preparing for this day for some time.

“Kerry is one of the very best leaders I have had the privilege of working with,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “She is a great advisor, consummate team player and champion of those we serve inside and outside the company. She led the industry’s largest reservations system cutover and has been at the helm of numerous efficiency projects critical to our integration. American is far better because of Kerry’s contributions, including her work to promote passengers’ rights, support our diversity and inclusion initiatives, and launch innovative customer service training for team members. We will miss her, but Kerry has more than earned the right to do what is best for her and her family. Thankfully she has trained a stellar group of leaders who will carry on her legacy to drive operational excellence with the utmost care for our team.”

Philipovitch began her aviation career in 1996 as a pricing analyst at Northwest Airlines before joining US Airways and later American. She has held leadership roles in Revenue Management, Network and Schedule Planning, Airport Customer Service and Reservations. At American, Philipovitch has overseen all aspects of the customer experience, including Airport Operations, Customer Planning, Flight Service, Reservations, Premium Services, Service Recovery and Cargo. Philipovitch will remain with the airline through the end of the year to assist with the transition.

Operations and Commercial Realignment

With this announcement, American is realigning its Operations and Commercial teams around four key pillars of the business: Operations, Network Strategy, Revenue and Customer Experience. The following four leaders will assume responsibility for these teams and each individual will report to Isom:

  • David Seymour, Senior Vice President of Operations
  • Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy
  • Don Casey, Senior Vice President of Revenue
  • Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience

“This is an opportunity to sharpen our focus on the key parts of our airline: running a reliable operation, expanding the world’s best network, maximizing all aspects of revenue to ensure American thrives forever, and delivering a superior customer journey as we create a world-class customer experience,” continued Isom. “This restructure puts innovative and extremely capable leaders at the forefront of these initiatives.”

Operations

David Seymour will expand his responsibilities and assume leadership for all of American’s operations, furthered by two key changes to his organization. Jim Butler has been named Senior Vice President of Airport Operations and Cargo. Butler previously led the airline’s International Airport Operations and Cargo teams and will now assume responsibility for the airline’s domestic airports.

In addition, Devon May has been named to the new role of Senior Vice President of American Eagle and Operations Planning. May will have responsibility for American’s regional operation and will lead the airline’s operations planning teams.

Both Butler and May will report to Seymour. Kevin Brickner, Senior Vice President of Technical Operations; Kimball Stone, Senior Vice President of Flight and Integrated Operations Center and Ron Thomas, Vice President of Safety, will continue reporting to Seymour. Together this group will move past American’s integration milestones and work to optimize the airline’s operational excellence.

Network Strategy

Vasu Raja is being promoted to Senior Vice President of Network Strategy. In this role, he will retain his responsibilities for American’s global network and will assume oversight of alliances and partnerships. Joe Mohan, Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships, will now report to Raja. This team will focus on maximizing the efficiencies of American’s current network and partnership structure, while ensuring American continues to provide customers with the industry’s preeminent network.

Revenue

Don Casey will lead the team responsible for the airline’s revenue. Jim Fox, Vice President of Pricing and Yield Management, will continue reporting to Casey. Casey’s oversight will expand to include the sales and distributions teams, working closely with Alison Taylor, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Distribution, who will now report to Casey. This new structure will facilitate improved long-term customer partnerships and agility in responding to the ever-changing market needs of American’s customers. Combining these two best-in-class revenue organizations will also ensure revenue outperformance and faster speed to market and delivery of the airline’s revenue initiatives.

Customer Experience

Kurt Stache will assume responsibility for the many touchpoints along the customer journey. As part of this new structure, Jill Surdek is being promoted to Senior Vice President of Flight Service. Surdek served as Vice President of Flight Service for the past three years, and over that time, managed one of the airline’s largest integration projects to bring all 28,000 flight attendants onto one operational platform. With this project’s successful completion, Surdek will now play a key role in leading the airline’s customer experience strategy.

Additionally, Alice Curry, Vice President of Customer Care, and her team will move to this group. Surdek and Curry join Janelle Anderson, Vice President of Global Marketing; Bridget Blaise-Shamai, Vice President of Customer Loyalty and Insights and John Gustafson, Vice President of Digital Customer Experience, in reporting to Stache. Together this team will focus on creating a seamless customer journey and improving guests’ likelihood to recommend American.

Operations and Commercial Leadership Team

Isom’s leadership team will include his four direct reports of David Seymour, Vasu Raja, Don Casey and Kurt Stache, as well as Alison Taylor and Devon May. This team will bring the necessary visibility and accountability to the efforts and initiatives needed to excel in operations, revenue, network and customer experience.

“American’s team members are what set us apart,” concluded Isom. “They’re the difference between just a flight and an experience. Our job is to give them the tools to care for customers on their journeys with us, and we know with this superb group of six leaders at the helm, we will deliver.”

David Seymour has more than 20 years of major airline operations experience at America West, US Airways and American. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy and a Master of Management degree from Northwestern University. Seymour is an Army Ranger School graduate and served as an officer in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He serves as a director of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

 


 

Vasu Raja has been with American for 15 years and has worked in Sales, Corporate Planning, Revenue Management and Network Planning and Analysis. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a master’s degree in teaching from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Raja began his career with Teach for America in 1999, and was named one of the Top 50 Executives under 50 by Diversity MBA Magazine in 2013.

 


 

Don Casey joined American in 2000 after leading Planning at Canadian Airlines. He has overseen American’s Revenue Management activity since 2009 and helped develop the airline’s bilateral alliance relationships. Casey holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta and a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of British Columbia. He is the recipient of Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Laurels Award for outstanding contributions to the field of commercial transportation.

 


 

Kurt Stache has 24 years of airline management experience at American, including leadership positions in AAdvantage Marketing, Global Sales, International, and Strategic Alliances. Most recently he has overseen the airline’s marketing strategy and implementation across all channels, as well as the company’s loyalty, digital and sales organizations. Stache holds a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

 


 

Devon May has nearly 20 years of airline experience in finance, commercial and operational roles. Since 2017, he has overseen American’s regional operations along with Network Planning and Alliances. Previously he served in leadership positions at American and US Airways in Finance and Network Planning. May holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, and an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

 


 

Alison Taylor leads American’s Global Sales team and is responsible for developing all sales and distribution policies worldwide, as well as managing the airline’s relationships with corporate, agent and group customers. Prior to joining American, she held a similar role at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Taylor has lived and worked in nine countries, including more than 20 years in Asia, and is a board member of both the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and Women In Travel by GBTA. She holds a bachelor’s of business degree from Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.

 

About American Airlines Group
American Airlines offers customers 6,800 daily flights to more than 365 destinations in 61 countries from its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. With a shared purpose of caring for people on life’s journey, American’s 130,000 global team members serve more than 200 million customers annually. Since 2013, American has invested more than $28 billion in its product and people and now flies the youngest fleet among U.S. network carriers, equipped with industry-leading high-speed Wi-Fi, lie-flat seats, and more inflight entertainment and access to power. American also has enhanced food and beverage options in the air and on the ground in its world-class Admirals Club and Flagship lounges. American was recently named a Five Star Global Airline by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and Airline of the Year by Air Transport World. American is a founding member of oneworld®, whose members serve 1,100 destinations in 180 countries and territories. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500. Learn more about what’s happening at American by visiting news.aa.com and connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.